Tuesday, October 13, 2020

t various times in my earthly journeys I have ascended and descended a number of mountains. In the year 2003, I was at the highest tourist mountain in Switzerland with my Swiss bosom friend, Reverend Father Professor Johannes Ruetsche. May God rest his soul! On the foot of the mountain I could not visualize what lies on top. No one can endeavour to climb that mountain on foot. We ascended by means of iron rope vehicle that could only take twelve persons at a time. As we were ascending, I looked down to the base and saw the long vacuum and I was filled with dizziness. Unfortunately I was the sole black man in the midst of white people. To avoid embarrassing myself before them, I closed my eyes until we reached the peak of that highest mountain in Switzerland. Wonders shall never end. The clouds were reachable from there. In fact I touched them and felt the coldness. On top of the mountain stands a very big tourist house with different departments, which the Germans describe as "alles unter einem Dach." This means a house containing everything: shops, beer parlour, hotel and relaxation/game centre. In company of my friend, we saw; we eat and drank. When I remembered the phobia of descending the mountain, hot urine filled my bladder. Thus I ran like a mad man into the water closet to ease myself to avoid urinating on my trousers while descending. I was happy while on top of the mountain but sad while we were going down.

During my pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2013, I was at Mountain Tabor where Jesus Christ transfigured himself in the presence of Moses, Elijah, Peter, James and John. It is a very high mountain being climbed with the aid of a special vehicle being driven through a zigzag tarred road. It takes up to 30 minutes to be on the top. On top of the mountain stands a gigantic church edifice known as the Church of the Transfiguration. From that height, heaven is not too far. While on the mountain, I went into the church with other pilgrims to pray before the Eucharistic Lord. An Anglican devout man with us asked me, "Please father, I am an Anglican. What shall I do?" My reply was short and simple: "Do whatever others are doing." Immediately he knelt down and prostrated himself with us before the Blessed Sacrament. Indeed, in the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. The glory of the Lord overshadowed us. No wonder Peter exclaimed, "Lord it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents; one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah" (Luke 9:33). Peter, James and John could manage staying outside. I wanted to proceed to heaven from there, but God reminded me that it was not yet time. In addition, I have not finished the work which the Lord assigned to me in his vineyard. Therefore I heard the voice of Jesus Christ saying, "My servant Father Amobi, go down and go back to Nigeria and complete the work assigned to you in my vineyard." On our way down the Mountain of Transfiguration, I had mix feelings of gladness and sadness. I was glad for encountering the glory of God on the mountain. On the other hand, I was sad that I was going back to Nigeria to encounter suffering. However, all hope is not lost. By the grace of God, I shall ascend to the Mountain of Heaven to see God face to face at the end of my earthly sojourn. I shall not ascend the heavenly mountain alone. You will surely go with me. Are you not ready?

I have been at Obudu Cattle Ranch Mountain for five times. It is referred to as "Paradise on Earth." It lies on top of a very high mountain in Cross River State. From the base you can hardly see anything above. The first time I was there I couldn't believe what my eyes saw and what I experienced. I was behind the steering from Awka, a journey of six hours. One of the tour guides approached me and asked, "Sir, can you drive up the mountain?" Courageously I answered, "Yes, by the grace of God." Then I made the Sign of the Cross seven times and sprinkled myself and my companion with Holy Water. Also, I made a perfect Act of Contrition before ascending the zigzag mountain road. On reaching the centre of the mountain I looked down and fear grabbed me. I shouted, "The devil is a liar! Jesus, I trust in you!" Immediately, courage came back to me. I drove up with ease. On reaching the peak of the Obudu Mountain, I exclaimed, "The Lord is good!" My companion shouted, "All the time!" Then we came down from the car and entered the reception office to book for three days accommodation and site seeing. But first of all we entered the mountain restaurant for heavy refreshment. I ate a plate of eba and vegetable soup. Then I washed it down with one and half bottles of cold Heineken beer. As we were moving about on the mountain, clouds covered us at various times. I was waiting to see Jesus, Moses and Elijah and to hear a voice from heaven, but all to no avail. After two days, my pocket was dried up. Hence I made haste and hurried down the mountain and back to home.

Just few days ago, I took the flock of God entrusted to me in Obinikpa Achina in Aguata Local Government of Anambra State to pasture them in the rich green field in the town. Before reaching the green pasture, one must ascend or descend a local mountain popularly known as 'Ugwu Nganga' (the mountain of pride). It is not easy to ascend or descend. One is moved to dance while going up or down the hilly road. The road is very bad, slippery and unmotorable. Gully erosion has taken possession of the mountain road. As I was ascending on foot, I was controlling the flock of God entrusted to me, lest we perish. At a point I knelt down and prayed charismatically because my people were afraid of crashing into the gully. God answered by fire and sent us his Angels to lead us through. With God on our side we started ascending with 'nganga' (pride). On reaching the peak of the Ugwu Nganga, I went into the Eucharistic chapel at St Charles Catholic Church Achina to adore and thank Jesus the Chief Shepherd whose flock I am looking after down the mountain. Later, I entered the Oye Market Achina to purchase a large quantity of edibles and drinks for me and my flock which would last for many days because it is not easy to pass through the Ugwu Nganga on daily basis. Then began our journey down the sheepfold situated at Obinikpa Achina. With God on my side, the People of God under my pastoral care are bouncing with vitality. However, I urgently appeal to the Anambra State Government to construct the Ugwu Nganga road. The people living down the mountain are almost cut off from Achina by gully erosion and unmotorable road. During and after heavy rainfalls we sleep with two eyes opened for fear of being washed away by the gully erosion that has eaten deep into Obinikpa Achina. If nothing urgent is done in the coming dry season, then the people living there including St Joseph Catholic Church and the nearby Peter University Achina/Onneh will be in serious jeopardy. Please Governor Maduaburochukwu Obiano and others concerned, save our souls! Our bodies are already trapped in the deep erosion menace.

After all is said and done, divine consolation is our hope. In this world of ours, we must climb mountains in order to enjoy divine banquet. That's why God through Prophet Isaiah assures us in these words: "On this Mountain the Lord God Almighty will prepare a banquet for all the nations of the world" (Isaiah 25:6). One can asked, "What is the name of the Mountain being referred to so that we can make haste to climb it?" Short and simple, it is called God's Mountain. Where is it located? It is located in our various states of life. As a priest and perpetual bachelor, I have been climbing my own priestly mountain for 27 years now. It has not been easy for me. But by the grace of God I must endeavour to reach the peak of the heavenly mountain. Those who are married are climbing the marital mountain for better and for worse. Some have run away from climbing that mountain because of one reason or the other. Some have slumped and died on the way while some are dilly dallying. Those who are single are struggling to overcome their rigorous mountain of hope. Those who lost hope while climbing have fallen aside while the courageous are struggling to survive. Men, women, youths and children are all climbing the mountain of survival from different angles of life. With perseverance and by divine assistance we shall all meet on the top of God's Mountain in question to enjoy the special divine banquet. It is a journey of forward ever and backward never. As a Nigerian, one must double his or her effort in the midst of uncertainties bedeviling our country such as terrorism, Fulani herdsmen bloody menace, kidnapping, banditry, economic hardship and bad leadership. These are all militating against our efforts in climbing the Divine Mountain. In God we trust!